Finally, I’m actually writing from the day I’m writing about!
Though still coughing and sniffling a bit, my health has improved. In the morning, totally fed up with the crappy (and relatively expensive) Hotel Natraj, we moved to the nearby Hotel Him Queen in search of toilets that flushed and showers that worked. A much better room – and cheaper even. Amazing what some locals try to get away with in some of these places. Our standards of quality are a complete world away.
We often find ourselves despairingly crying “qualiiittttyy!” Or “quality with a capital KW”.
We walked through the muddy streets to the Green Hotel where we had a delicious breakfast of Tibetan porridge and jam and bread. It’s a big traveller’s hangout. There are quite a lot of travellers in town actually, some looking like they’ve been here for a long time, and a few western-looking Buddhists in saffron robes.
After breakfast we walked to Tsuglagkhang, the Dalai Lama’s temple. A nondescript group of buildings, but there was a large group of chanting Buddhists at the temple. We went on a beautiful walk around the hill, passing hundreds of carved mani stones with beautiful Tibetan script on them, and past lines of gossamer prayer flags. A peaceful, relaxing walk. At one point we passed a long line of colourful prayer wheels.
On the way back we stopped at a travel agent office and booked a train from Pathankot to Jaipur in Rajasthan. The soonest we can get is Saturday the 6th, so we’ve got four days to take it easy and check out the area.
Next we decided to walk a bit back down the Dharamshalah road to the English church of St. John in the Wilderness. This proved to be a nightmare journey however – we really learnt the meaning of being ‘dogged’ by something, at a semi-lame dog latched on to us and wouldn’t leave us alone. In a land of disease and rabies this is pretty freaky. It kept getting a bit ahead of us, stopping, letting us pass, then coming up behind us and going ahead again.
When we got to the melancholy church and graveyard, we heard what sounded like a dying dog locked in the church, its howls echoing inside the building. Time to get out of there! We headed back up the road – luckily with nothing in pursuit.
Back at the Ashoka restaurant we sat for a while on the rooftop terrace and had delicious chicken and sweet corn soup and vegetable pakoras for lunch.
Back at the hotel room now, having a rest. We had dinner (Chinese food) upstairs at a place in town, accompanied by loud, bad dance music, and tea and cake at the Green Hotel place. It was great fun walking through the muddy streets at night.